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Antiparos:Caves, History and Cycladic Charm

Paros has for years been a household name even to those who have never visited the Greek islands.
But Antiparos – just 30 minutes by boat from Parikia, the capital of Paros, or a mere six minutes by ferry from Paros’ popular Pounta Beach – has yet to be discovered by more than those who have already been initiated in its hidden treasures:
One of the oldest and loveliest stalactite and stalagmite caves in the world; the remains of a Venetian Castle built in 1440 to protect inhabitants from pirate raids; innumerable white churches with blue domes scattered all over the island; secluded emerald beaches.
On Faneromeni beach, at the small church of Panagia Faneromeni, the September 7 annual Festival will once again treat lucky visitors with grilled octopus, tsikoudia – and warm hospitality.

To the south-west of Antiparos lies uninhabited Despotiko islet, the archaeological findings of which are turning it into an Archaeological Park.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)
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Deficit down by 46%

According to the preliminary data available for the state budget implementation for the first six months of 2010, on a fiscal basis the deficit presented a 46% year-on-year decline against a targeted 39.5% in the government’s economic policy programme.
The fiscal result of the first six months of 2010 is due to both restriction of expenditures and revenue increases. Nevertheless, these do not yet fully reflect all fiscal measures included in the government’s programme for 2010.
Furthermore, ordinary budget expenditures declined by 12.8% year-on-year against a targeted 5.5% reduction and primary expenditures decreased by 12.7% against a targeted 5.4% annual decrease.
Hellenic Stability & Growth Newsletter: June 2010
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

New OSCE PA President: Petros Efthymiou

Ruling PASOK party deputy Petros Efthymiou was elected as the new president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), during the forum’s 19th annual session.
Efthymiou, who was a Vice-President in the Assembly, was elected with 130 votes, against 64 of Senator Consiglio Di Nino (Canada).
Participants at the 19th session discussed a wide range of issues, amongst which the situation in Kyrgyzstan, the Parliamentary Assembly’s involvement in the Corfu process, the peace process in the Middle East, nuclear security, cyber-crime.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

PM George Papandreou at the World Economic Forum

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Speaking as part of a panel – that also included Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet – at the annual World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland (January 27 -31), Prime Minister George Papandreou said that Greece would not leave the euro area and would use the discipline of membership to slash its budget deficit and make long-delayed structural economic reforms. “The answer is very simple. We went [to the market] for borrowing two days ago and we were five times oversubscribed. We’re not looking for money from anywhere else…” said Papandreou. He outlined an ambitious goal to reduce the deficit by four points this year and bring it below 3% by 2012, through measures taken as part of Greece’s Stability and Growth Programme (SGP)
The premier held a meeting with EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia yesterday, and the discussion focused on Greece’s SGP in light of the report that the European Commission will be submitting on February 3, on Greece. 
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso – speaking in Brussels on Thursday – stressed the need for the greater coordination of economic policies in the EU, emphasising that economic policies are not only a national issue, but European as well. Referring to Greece specifically, he expressed the conviction that the Greek government must be supported in its effort to fulfil its commitments in the framework of the SGP. 
See world reports – BBC.co.uk: Davos 2010: Greece denies a bail-out is needed; Reuters.com: Greece says being targeted as euro zone “weak link”

Prime Minister`s Belgrade Visit

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Prime Minister George Papandreou paid a short visit to Belgrade on January 4 to address the Annual Conference of the Ambassadors of Serbia. During his visit, the premier met with Serbia’s President and Prime Minister, Boris Tadic and Mirko Cvetkovic.

Speaking after his meeting with the Serb President, Papandreou said that bilateral relations are excellent and noted that his presence in Belgrade signals the beginning of an effort to enable the western Balkans to join the European Union in 2014.
“Greece is in the front line of the initiative that constitutes a basic aim for peace, cooperation, and stability in the region,” Papandreou said. 
Addressing the 3rd Congress of Serbia’s ambassadors, Papandreou said that 2014 is a crucial year for the EU accession of the Western Balkan states, stressing that this region has to make big steps forward and leave behind the wars and conflicts of the past.
The premier also referred to “global governance that is in the making,” stressing, among other things, that “national states are gradually becoming incapable of handling global problems by themselves, such as climatic change, immigration and organised crime,” and called for global cooperation and regional alliances. 
See also: Athens News Agency: PM reiterates support for Serbia’s EU course

Bank of Greece Annual Report

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Bank of Greece Governor Nicholas Garganas, in his annual report of the economy released yesterday, forecasts continuous growth of the economy at higher rates than the rest of the eurozone, albeit at a slower pace. The country’s 2008 GDP growth forecast is revised downwards at 3.5% from a previous estimate of 3.7% in February. The slow down, as well as the inflation rate expected to rise to 4% this year from 3.4% previously, are inevitable and are due primarily to higher oil prices. The report also attributes these trends to higher pay rises and the presence of cartels in many markets. The Governor said the Central Bank favours mergers and acquisitions in the banking sector and called on banks to improve the quality of their portfolios, and on households to make careful appraisal of their ability to repay loans before borrowing. Garganas also welcomed the recent reform of the social security system.  Continue reading